Harrogate Male Voice Choir ~ 2017 Annual Summer Concert

in collaboration with the combined choirs of
Bilton Grange and Richard Taylor C of E Primary Schools

On Saturday 20th May, over 100 voices were raised to celebrate choral singing in St. Wilfrid’s Church, Duchy Road, Harrogate. Nearly 40 of these were of silver-haired, blue-blazered men with maroon ties and matching folders. The rest belonged to children from two local schools in soccer shirts and scarves. This was an innovative partnership, initiated by Patrick Lee, Musical Director of Harrogate Male Voice Choir, and the Music co-ordinators, Rachel Parker and Carmel Wake, of the primary schools, Bilton Grange School and Richard Taylor School.

A teeming audience of parents, relatives and paying members of the public filled the chilly church and received the singing enthusiastically. The programme was ambitious, consisting of eleven pieces sung by the male voice choir alone, ten by the youngsters and, climactically, four in which the combined voices of both groups were heard. Many pieces were classics from the standard male voice choir repertoire though several were refreshed by original arrangements written for the choir by Patrick Lee. This also placed demands on the choir’s expert accompanist David Mawson whose playing was accomplished and sympathetic throughout (though hampered as far as volume was concerned by an almost-closed piano lid).

In both halves of the concert the children sang a middle section with show tunes predominating. Most were sung in unison but considerable rehearsal must have gone into those in which they split into parts and even included harmony. The singing was regularly enlivened by movements and gestures choreographed to suit the words. Carmel Wake gave active and enthusiastic direction to the children from start to finish and deserves congratulation.

After the interval there were several highlights which raised the overall impression given by both choirs. A setting of Kipling’s poem “IF”, written in 2013 by Patrick Lee, was sung extremely effectively by the male voices and the music strongly supported the meaning of these very famous words. The children also sang a couple of notable songs of nonsense words with verve and a backing track.

Another of the joint numbers, “Here and Now”, had been especially written for the male voice choir by Patrick Lee and this was its premiere. The words are by Zimbabwean poet, Penny Sylvester, and describe a dialogue between a group of children and a Grandad, discussing ways to get the best out of life – especially pertinent to these participants.

The concert concluded with pieces in which the two age groups joined forces to impress the audience still further, especially with their final rendering of “Amazing Grace”, where even the members of the audience were asked to join in - and they did so lustily.

A venture across the generations which worked splendidly and will bolster the reputation of Harrogate as a centre of euphonious singing.

- Chris de Saram ~ 22.05.2017

‘Trefoil Guild’ Concert – Majestic Hotel Harrogate – 19th June 2016

The performance that you provided for us was absolutely amazing. We have had some fantastic feedback from the ladies who attended our evening of entertainment.

The Harrogate Male Choir charmed us with heart-felt renditions of the folk song classic ‘The Water is Wide (Waly Waly)’ and the traditional hymn ‘Amazing Grace’, as well as the swing favourite ‘Chattanooga Choo-Choo’ and a selection of upbeat American numbers that had us moving in our seats!

- Georgia Bashford, Venture Abroad

A Traditional evening of male voice choir singing.

The Harrogate Male Voice Choir held their annual concert in St Mark’s Church, Leeds Road, Harrogate on Saturday 21st May 2016. They were ably conducted by Patrick J Lee and accompanied on Pianos by Avril Leeming & David Mawson. The Mayor of Harrogate and his wife were also in attendance. The items were introduced by Bernard Hall who also entertained us with quips and jokes.

We were treated to a traditional male concert with a wonderful collection of songs all in one programme. We were overjoyed to find several of our all-time favourites included, such as, For the Beauty of the Earth by Folliot Pierpoint and John Rutter and Bridge over troubled Water by Paul Simon. Also the beautiful and meaningful poem, IF by Rudyard Kipling delivered as a chant which was arranged by Patrick Lee.

The Concert opened with, Cabaret taken from the musical by the same name which was presented well and sung from memory and made a resounding start to the performance. This was followed by, Rhythm of life which was well rehearsed but would have benefitted from a little more use of dynamics. The next item, For the Beauty of the Earth was sung confidently with a good blend of voices and an impressive Tenor section input. The choir followed the Conductor well when singing, Cattannooga Choo-Choo and The American Trilogy when the choir demonstrated their familiarity with these works. Bridge over Trouble Water and Do you hear the people sing came over well with good underlying bass voices together with the soloists, (Bernard Hall, Reg Pratt and Steve Rice), performing well.

The top tenors performed well in this old favourite, Morte Christe and the choir sang confidently and well, especially when singing in harmony.

Avril Leeming & David Mawson both played confidently following the Conductor and accurately giving the Choir good leads and musical ques.

One of the highlights of the evening was the four solo pieces sung by Sarah Trout and accompanied by Patrick Lee. Sarah sang in a clear voice, finishing phrases well and was a great pleasure to listen to. She deservedly received great acclaim from the audience. In her final piece she sang romantically to one of the Choir members which she appeared to choose at random. Much to his surprise, but he kept his cool wonderfully.

Finally the Choir rounded up their singing with You’ll never walk alone which they sang from memory. The Choir sang this exceptionally well.

The concert ended with three pieces with audience participation:- I vow to Thee my Country, Jerusalem and Amazing Grace The well know song Jerusalem being sung with most enthusiasm.

Generally the Choir sang with added confidence when singing together. Some of the pieces would have benefited from a little more contrast in the dynamics. However, the evening was a great entertainment and a pleasure to listen to.

The Mayor, when making the presentations, requested the choir to sing Bridge over Troubled water as an encore which was a compliment to the group.

- Pamela and John Raho

Harrogate Male Voice Choir and The Yorkshire Saxophone Choir

A concert was held in St Mark’s Church, Leeds Road, Harrogate on 30th May 2015, this being Harrogate Male Voice Choir’s annual concert. Their special guests were; The Yorkshire Saxophone Choir. They performed to a substantial audience which almost filled the Church.

The choir deserves praise for an impressive performance singing a varied programme of well known songs. They started by treating us to Cabaret, sung without the aid of scores. It was so good to see the concentration of the choir and the care with which they followed the Conductor's signals.

There followed a medley of familiar Male Voice Choir offerings including Cwm Rhonda (sung in English), where the choir demonstrated good balance and clear articulation and American Trilogy (made popular by Elvis Presley), which is a sentimental song where harmony between the voice parts was noticeably good. The choir finished their first half session with The Water is Wide and the Jolly Roger.

The choir's first item after the interval was a slow and sentimental number, I vow to thee my Country, which was sung with good harmony, respect for the dynamics but the articulation was not as clear and precise as previous songs. This was followed by a hymn, For the Beauty of The Earth which was sung well, with good diction and the Tenors gave a good body of sound to this item. The Rhythm of Life was delivered at a lively and challenging speed resulting in some loss of diction in places. Softly as I leave you, showed some Baritone dominance, and Do You Hear the People Sing completed the Male Voice Choir's input.

Generally, The Male Voice Choir was at its best when singing together, where they performed impressively and confidently, with the possible exception of the Tenor section which performed particularly well during their solo sections. The majority of the songs were well prepared and sung with great confidence.

The choir's items were introduced by John Corrin who had a ready set of humorous scenarios to supplement his announcements.

Of particular interest to the audience was the anticipation of the unique experience of hearing The Yorkshire Saxophone Choir which is believed to be the only such ensemble not linked to a conservatoire or other educational institution in The United Kingdom.

The saxophone choir, comprising three bass, three tenor, three Alto, two soprano and one sopranino saxophones, played three pieces in each half of the concert.

Their first arrangement was a new work called Excursions by Martin Ellerby, which has been recently commissioned by the choir. This will be played, along with two other arrangements, at the 2015 Saxophone World Congress in Strasbourg. Excursions proved to contain complex but pleasing melodies, good rhythms and was heard as a particularly harmonious piece, demonstrating the choir’s ability and attraction.

The arrangement Tico Tico (Brazilian song about a sparrow and his attack on a Corn Store) was a cheeky, lively and entertaining performance which caught the imagination. The piece called Altostratus, consistent with its name, transmitted an overcast, melancholy and monotonic atmosphere.

The evening rounded up with two joint items, the unusual combination of the Male Voice Choir and The Saxophone Choir performing You'll never walk alone and Bring me Sunshine. This blend of ensembles worked extremely well and was one of the highlights of the concert. The sounds were well balanced and blended well.

In conclusion, The Male Voice Choir, under the able direction of Patrick Lee, along with The Yorkshire Saxophone Choir, provided a very enjoyable musical evening.

- Pamela and John Raho